Social Media IS Old Fashioned Public Relations
A lot of people who use Social Media platforms to market their businesses think of it strictly in terms of sales and marketing; I beg to differ. I think that Social Media usefulness has morphed in many ways to a typical Public Relations concept.
Wikipedia defines Public Relations thusly:
public relations plural of pub·lic re·la·tions (Noun)
That said, does Social Media, in particular Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc as used for business or non-profit marketing fit that definition? We think so. We at Commonwealth Creative Marketing have been utilizing a public relations component in our SEO campaigns for clients for quite some time in the form of reviews as well as social media, and we tend to market social media outsourcing as PR, not as marketing. Public Relations are supposed to build your positive reputation in the public sphere, build top-of-mind consciousness, and help you retain the customers you already have. Social Media does all of that very well, through engagement and online conversation, as well as the inevitable sharing that occurs with engaging content.
When you have data that can be fuzzy, that is not Internet marketing, per se; Most marketing avenues have tracking mechanisms in place. Even billboards have a count of how many cars drive by on any given day! But it is almost impossible to track whether someone saw your Facebook posting 17 times in their newsfeed, then heard a good word of mouth from a friend, then checked out your website, before they finally called and then purchased. If you have social media well integrated with your other marketing components, however, you can demonstrate at least some benefit through engagement and feedback, even if you don’t have a hard number of conversions.
So consider taking a PR look at your marketing campaigns, and also consider how social media can best serve you as a public relations piece.